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Compassionately reaching out to nourish and meet the physical needs of the underserved and overburdened.
DENVER (KDVR) — A Denver nonprofit that helps feed homeless Coloradans is now in need of a home itself.
Feeding Denver’s Hungry has been told it needs to leave the warehouse its occupied for free for the past two years, to make way for a paying tenant, but that has left the organization and those it serves in limbo.
Jim Scharper founded the nonprofit back in 2011 after pulling himself out of homelessness.
“I’m an alcoholic and I was on the streets living in my truck. When I finally quit drinking and got my life together I wanted to pay it back to society,” he said.
Scharper started making sandwiches to give away to the homeless, but his efforts began to snowball, and pretty soon his nonprofit was feeding thousands of families in the Denver area.
In 2019, the organization moved into a 40,000 square foot warehouse on the 4500 block of Jason Street in north Denver where it’s been operating rent free.
“We served over 4 million meals this past year,” Scharper explained.
Scharper says demand for food has increased exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Feeding Denver’s Hungry now also distributes food to homebound Coloradans and to people who have lost their jobs during the pandemic.
At one point, Scharper said 600 cars were pulling up to the warehouse each week to receive food. He now worries what will happen to those families.
“I’m very emotional about it, because it’s a loss. We’re not able to help people like we intended to,” he said.
The nonprofit is now giving away all of the food and supplies in its warehouse to other nonprofits.
He’s also now searching for a new warehouse for his nonprofit, and says he has made more than 100 phone calls without success.
Scharper is hoping to find someone who will generously let the nonprofit occupy 10,000 square feet of a warehouse free of charge, and is hopeful someone will come to the organization’s rescue.
“I believe everything happens for a reason and there’s another plan. We just have to wait and see what it is,” Scharper said.
Welcome to the new and upcoming re-design of the website for Feeding Denver’s Hungry. This is a work in progress so please bare with us as we work through the dust of constructing this new website to help you in these devastating times of 2021. If there is anything that you thing we should add or something that you are looking for and cannot find it, please visit our Contact Page to send us a message. We promise that someone will respond within 24 hours or less!
Feeding Denver’s Hungry is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization so donating to us could be a tax write-off to you and/or your organization. FDH lives and advances solely off of your donations. 100% of all donations that are made to FDH is put back into the community. None of the volunteers and/or board members receives any amount of the the donations that have been received.
We encourage everyone to make a small donation with each paycheck that they can. Even if the donation is $5 a week, that is $260 per year. You will not believe what we can do with that $260 per year for a family of 4 that is need of your support!
Feeding Denver’s Hungry works solely and completely from the help of volunteers. Everyone that you meet within the Feeding Denver’s Hungry organization is a volunteer. Our Founder, Board Members, our Website Designer all the way to team members that you see handing out the food!
If you would to become a volunteer of Feeding Denver’s Hungry, visit the https://FeedingDenversHungry.org/volunteer to sign-up and learn more about the benefits of being a volunteer of our great organization! We have also partnered with Local Governmental Agencies to allow your volunteerism to count towards Community Service if you shall find the need to perform any. We will not question as to the why. We are just grateful that you have selected us!
In the news and what is happening around us!
Here are some of the stories in the news and events happening all around us ….
The city sent state officials a letter last week detailing a location-based approach to speeding up the vaccination process for thousands experiencing homelessness.
DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis rejected a request from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and the city’s joint task force to speed up vaccinations for people experiencing homelessness.
“It would cost lives to divert vaccine from people that are in their 70s to younger healthier people just because they happen to be homeless,” the governor said when asked during a news conference Tuesday.
Denver’s mayor and joint task force sent a letter to state officials last week presenting a location-based vaccine strategy that would target people living and working in shelters, motels, managed campsites or unsanctioned encampments, no matter their age.
The letter cited a hospitalization rate for people experiencing homelessness as three times that of the general population.
According to Colorado Department of Public Health (CDPHE) data, there have been 26 outbreaks affecting more than 400 residents and almost 130 staff members at Colorado homeless shelters.
More than half of those outbreaks are still active, data shows.
Another current, active outbreak in Denver has affected almost 300 people experiencing homelessness.
Still, the governor said his vaccine priorities stand.
“We give the same prioritization for homeless Coloradans than we do for Coloradans who have a home,” Polis said. “Everybody who is 70 and up who is homeless already is eligible [and] should have been vaccinated. If they’re 65 and up, they are now eligible for vaccination as well regardless of whether you have a home or don’t have a home.”
Polis also shared concerns about tracking down people experiencing homelessness for their second dose.
“Being able to track and make sure people come back three or four weeks later is a problem across the entire population, but is an even greater problem among those who lack a regular address,” Polis said. “I would add that logistically, it will be a lot easier for the needs of the homeless population to use the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine which is much more effective with one dose than Pfizer and Moderna which are only somewhat effective with one dose.”
Homeless advocates in Denver are upset with what they believe is a lack of consideration for an especially vulnerable population.
“We’re going to exclude a population that typically gets excluded from a lot of stuff,” Benjamin Dunning with Denver Homeless Out Loud told 9NEWS. “I’m certainly going to speak out against that.”
Dunning believes Polis has not shown consideration to the homeless population in his tenure as governor, and is not surprised about his response Tuesday.
“The hope is that because the city of Denver is wanting to recognize the need…more and more people will begin to recognize the need to take care of folks who are in vulnerable positions, especially in positions of housing,” Dunning said.
Other homeless groups sent 9NEWS statements Tuesday night:
Cathy Alderman with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless:
“We are very disappointed that the Governor decided to waive the age-based requirements for so many groups in Colorado but will not do so for people who are living in congregate settings like shelters where the risk of exposure and COVID-complications is very high. When an outbreak happens in a shelter where people are sleeping, eating, and sharing space together, hundreds of individuals are at risk of getting the virus and experiencing health complications which will significantly impact our hospital system and result in loss of life. The reliance on a vaccine that hasn’t yet been approved for a high-risk population is irresponsible and dismissive of the real health risks people experiencing homelessness living in shelters face on a day-to-day basis.”
Rev. Brian Rossbert with the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado:
“The Interfaith Alliance of Colorado is concerned at the Governor’s decision to not prioritize our unhoused neighbors. UCLA (2020) noted that people experiencing homelessness are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus and are far more likely to need hospitalization and to die as a result of the illness.
The National Alliance to End Homelessness (2020) pointed out that a significant population of our homeless individuals are at a greater risk for COVID-19, as they fall within the over 50 category.
The University of Pennsylvania (2020) stated that the homeless are twice as likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19, up to four times as likely to require critical care, and up to three times more likely to die than the general population.
With such a significant number of unhoused individuals, it is vital that we prioritize such a vulnerable population. By not prioritizing those who are unhoused, we are putting an already vulnerable population further at risk for infection.”
In a memo, Mayor Michael Hancock and other officials urged the state to adopt a location-based prioritization strategy instead of the existing age-based strategy.
DENVER — The Denver Joint Task Force is asking the state for permission to change COVID-19 vaccination strategies so people experiencing homelessness can be moved up the eligibility list.
In a memo sent to the state last week, Mayor Michael Hancock and other officers urged the state to adopt a location-based prioritization strategy instead of the existing age-based strategy.
The Denver task force said a location-based prioritization would allow all people at a shelter, motel, managed campsite or unsanctioned encampment to get the vaccine at the same time, regardless of age.
“The Task Force believes this would be a much more effective and efficient way to vaccinate an estimated 6,151 guests and staff of shelters, unsheltered people living in encampments, and service providers across Denver,” the joint task force said in a release.
The hospitalization rate for people experiencing homelessness is three times higher than the general population, according to the task force.
“There is an urgent need to vaccinate people experiencing homelessness and service provider staff to induce herd immunity to protect people at risk and prevent large outbreaks in congregate settings,” the memo states. “Prioritization of people experiencing homelessness will also benefit our Denver metro region population by decreasing the rate of community transmission.”
The memo follows a Jan. 7 letter from Hancock to Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) proposing adjustments to the state’s vaccine distribution plan that included giving higher priority to people living in congregate settings, such as homeless shelters.
Polis responded to a question about the memo during a press conference on Tuesday, saying he doesn’t think it makes sense.
“It would cost lives to divert vaccines from older people to younger healthier people who are homeless,” Polis said.
He also said that it logistically makes sense for the homeless population to receive the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which has not yet been approved for distribution.
“Our unhoused neighbors have been among our most vulnerable residents throughout the pandemic,” Mayor Hancock said. “It is critical that we accelerate immunizations not just for people experiencing homelessness, but also for the service providers, case managers and others who work closest with them, which will support the health of the general public as well.”
The Denver Joint Task Force includes representatives from the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, the Denver Department of Housing Stability, Denver Public Health at Denver Health and Hospital Authority, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and other Homeless Leadership Council providers.
The city of Denver said it plans to appeal the temporary ruling.
DENVER — The city of Denver has appealed a temporary ruling from a federal judge which ordered the city to give at least 48 hours notice prior to sweeping homeless camps, even if the city deems the camp a public safety hazard.
Documents filed Tuesday, a day after the initial ruling, say the judge’s order limits Denver’s ability, through its departments, to address significant and imminent public health, environmental and safety risks related to conditions in large-scale encampments.
“Due to the serious and significant public health, environment and safety concerns implicated by the district court’s order—especially during the COVID-19 pandemic—Denver seeks an emergency stay of the preliminary injunction,” the document says.
U.S. District Court Judge William Martinez only partially sided with the plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit brought by the advocacy group Denver Homeless Out Loud and other people experiencing homelessness.
The defendants include the city of Denver and specifically city officials including Mayor Michael Hancock and Denver Public Health Director Bob McDonald.
“What we have seen the city do is they created their rationale after the fact and what Judge Martinez is saying is you have to actually have empirical evidence that proves that this is necessary and that has to be published publicly before you can do a sweep,” said Anna Cornelius, an organizer with Denver Homeless Out Loud.
While Judge Martinez did not go as far as to stop the sweeps during the pandemic as CDC guidelines suggest, he did write in his order that it seemed city officials were trying to avoid encountering protestors by not giving any notice for past sweeps.
“Moreover, the Court also finds that the decision of DDPHE managers to conduct the sweeps at issue in the manner that they did were not based on actual, scientific, or evidence-based, public health concerns,” wrote Judge Martinez in his decision. “While these indeed were the aspirational justifications articulated by Lee and McDonald, the Court finds that in fact the decision to conduct these area restrictions with effectively no advance notice to the residents of the affected encampments were actually based, as Plaintiffs’ counsel has argued, on the possibility of additional (and vociferous) public scrutiny and the threat of First Amendment protected activity, and these managers’ preference to avoid same.”
Judge Martinez also upheld a previous settlement that says the city needs to give seven days notice for large-scale sweeps.
In an emailed statement from the city, they wrote “today’s ruling dangerously ties the hands of city officials and prevents us from acting swiftly in the case of a public health or safety emergency or significant environmental impacts, which we unfortunately see with some frequency in large encampments.”
The city says they will likely appeal this ruling.
The order is temporary as the case moves through the courts, but federal cases can take years to resolve.
On Monday during the council's second meeting of the year, members voted to keep the hotel rooms running through February, with the option to extend.
DENVER — The Denver City Council extended three contracts on Monday that will allow the city to continue providing temporary housing in hotel rooms for some people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 crisis.
Denver’s shelter capacity has been sliced by 56%, or about 1,200 beds, because of social distancing requirements related to the pandemic, according to Britta Fisher, executive director of Denver’s Department of Housing Stability. To create more space, city officials stood up two emergency homeless shelters last year at the National Western Complex and the nearby Denver Coliseum and also secured more than 800 hotel rooms for people without housing who were affected by or at risk of catching the coronavirus.
On Monday during the council’s second meeting of the year, members voted to keep the hotel rooms running through February, with the option to extend the contracts up to an additional four months.
The council approved adding nearly $1.8 million to an agreement with DHF Denver Operating V, LLC, doing business as Hampton Inn and Suites Denver-Downtown, for a new total of $4.6 million, securing 151 rooms.
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